Highlights from Mark Donnelly
Pollok continued their recent tour of Ayrshire for Matchday 13 of the McBookie West Premiership with a trip to Blair Park to face Hurlford. The team showed five changes from the one which started the previous week against Irvine Meadow with Sideserf suspended, Henry injured and Dallas, Evans and Russell having to settle for a place on the bench. They were replaced by the five who had sat on the bench the previous week – MacKenzie, Boyle, Barron, Duff and Gary McCann.
With the pitch in superb condition and the sun shining the stage was set for a good game of football. Unfortunately for the fans in attendance – the majority of whom were supporting the away side – what transpired in the first half was not a good game of football.
The first real goal mouth incident occurred in the thirty-sixth minute when a long ball from keeper Lumsden was expertly flicked on by Stuart McCann for Forde to run on to. He rounded the despairing dive of the Hurlford keeper and although forced a little wide fired a low shot towards the near post. Unfortunately for Pollok, left back Dickson had made great strides to get back on the goal line and was able to kick clear.
With Robertson marshalling the Hurlford defence superbly and snuffing out Pollok attacks with increasing regularity it looked like the half time whistle would come without a goal been scored. Then in the forty third minute – with Pollok enjoying the bulk of the possession – Barron played a loose pass in his own centre circle. With the defence not set Hurlford were able to play two quick passes out to the right and when the inviting cross came in McKenzie was able to find space between the two backtracking centre halves to send an unstoppable header past Lumsden.
Duff had a chance to equalise straight away but fired a well struck shot at the keeper when others were screaming for a pass. So a disappointing half had finished with a flurry of activity and the home side in the lead.
The second half saw Pollok up their domination of possession with Hurlford happy in the main to protect their lead. Half chances came and went with Dickson clearing a McCann header off the line and the keeper making a couple of routine saves. At the other end Lumsden was forced into a point blank save after some unconvincing Pollok defending.
The introduction of Shaun Fraser led to an increase in creativity as Pollok continued their search for an equaliser. Fraser actually had the ball in the net in the eighty fifth minute with a very neat finish from a McCann flick on of a Gallacher through ball but the linesman had his flag up. It looked a contentious decision with Fraser in line with the Hurlford defence and Russell – not interfering with play – being the one flagged.
Pollok continued to press but an inviting Stuart McCann cross which no one could get on the end of and a rasping Esplin drive which stung the palms of the well positioned keeper were the closest they came.
So Pollok’s three week tour of Ayrshire ended in a defeat. Hurlford had the star performers on the day but by no means dominated or created lots of chances. It was points given away by the league leaders. Pollok now have a Junior Cup tie at Linlithgow to look forward to before yet another away league game at Rutherglen before a welcome return to Newlandsfield is on the fixture list. Peter Thomson